Hyde Park in the summertime: An audience of 50,000. Andrea Corr holds the microphone out to the crowd and asks them to sing along with her. She smiles and glows with the Corr family’s natural charm but her nerves are clear too – no sound-check, no large-scale performance in ten years and weeks of tears before the show… She’s met with a chorus of voices singing along to smash hit Runaway, swaying to the dreamy love song. For the first time, her Dad Jerry isn’t physically present to support her career but her sisters Sharon and Caroline and brother Jim are beside her – and the band’s children are backstage watching their parents play as a band on stage for the very first time. The Corrs are back.
The Corrs – Andrea (lead vocals, tin whistle), Sharon (violin, vocals), Caroline (drums, percussion, piano, bodhrán, vocals) and Jim (guitar, piano, keyboards, vocals) – were an international success in the 90s and early 2000s, playing a unique blend of Celtic pop and folk rock – and bringing Celtic rooted music to a mainstream audience. Their most successful album, TALK ON CORNERS, was the UK’s highest selling album in 1998 and went multi-Platinum in Australia; Third Corrs album, IN BLUE, reached number one in 17 countries. Hits such as Breathless, Runaway and What Can I do? and five studio albums won the band a loyal fanbase and critical success.
Now, they have returned after a ten year hiatus, that was decided whilst they stood at the peak of success. Charlotte Taylor talks to Andrea and Jim Corr about their return to the industry, much-awaited new album and a comeback tour this year.
Back on stage
The Corrs released their sixth studio album WHITE LIGHT on November 27, 2015, following the announcement of their return to the industry (as a band) on Chris Evans’ breakfast show on BBC Radio 2, an impressive comeback performance as part of Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park 2015 and a series of smaller showcases. Launching their album was “amazing” and sharing this symbolic new release “after a year’s work … has been intense,” says Andrea.
“As far as we are concerned, if you are going to come back after ten years it has got to be great,” she explains with an air of grounded confidence. “We have really pushed every song to the limit. I feel that each of us is very, very emotionally connected to this work and to each song. So it was kind of, it is kind of, almost a relief letting it go, to be honest. Letting it go out into the world – and then what will be will be …”
The Corrs were active in the industry from 1990 – 2005, creating five studio albums and with Sharon and Andrea also pursuing solo careers. Ten years is quite the hiatus But the siblings didn’t worry Jim is just as “delighted with how it is going” as his sisters. “It feels wonderful. We really missed playing together and we only realised that to the extent
when we got back up on stage and in Hyde Park.”
“You know, it is quite funny, it feels really natural,” Andrea explains. “Even though our first gig back was when we were in the middle of making the record and that was Hyde Park, so that was obviously seriously deep end stuff – in front of 50,000 people! As crazy as that is after ten years, there were certain aspects of it that felt like it was yesterday that we had done it [last].”
“…But then at the side of the stage we had proof that it wasn’t! Our children. The ten years was there in people on the right of the stage.”
Since letting the band lie, Andrea, Caroline, Sharon and Jim have all lived lives centred around their families, with eight children between them. “I think that [with] the distance and the time away, we focused on our own individual lives … It gives you a greater perspective on the whole thing – that really we are here to enjoy it now,” recounts Andrea. And now they are back not out of boredom, not out of label pressures but “because of the music, because we were inspired together. And we do feel that we
bring out the best in each other. We are loving being back and playing together.”
I ask them both what it could have possibly meant to have seen the the crowd sing along to Runaway at Hyde Park after ten years of being parents – not musicians in an internationally successful band? “To be honest it was unbelievable. That was an incredibly emotional day for me … for all of us. But it built up for me. I went through crying maybe once a day for the weeks before [to] crying the whole day the day before,” Andrea admits.
“It was the size of it, you know, the emotional gravity of being back with my sisters and brother on the stage and then also that it was the first that neither of our parents have seen – in the physical dimension anyway. So it really was really emotional – but the welcome we got then further added to that. I mean second song in we did Runaway and the whole crowd sang it. It was a real moment, for us anyway.”
“…Especially through the quiet part of Runaway, it was amazing,” says Jim. “And Breathless. We had some technical issues on the first song and we were a little bit nervous,getting up on the stage because we didn’t have a sound check … without a sound check you don’t know how things are going to go. But as soon as we settled into it and once we entered in the second song and everything was going fine, we started to relax and it was wonderful to hear the crowd sing along with the songs.”
Making magic again
The siblings took this family time incredibly seriously – they didn’t perform together at all. “We did our own thing … I think it’s been good because it did give us a further appreciation of each other and the magic that we create, the four of us together. And it is really nice not to be on your own. I love
being the singer of this band, this is a great job,” Andrea tells me with pride.
“It was simply a question of we wanted to devote proper time to our children because with children in their formative years you really need to be there for them we felt,” Jim explains. “We couldn’t have been there for them properly if we were still touring the world, unless we would have taken them with us. That would have been really awkward with school so it just made sense to completely go off the road. But as well as that we had achieved huge success all across the globe and I suppose we did need a little bit of a break from it as well. A healthy break.”
“We knew we would [perform as a band again] at some point, we just didn’t know when,” he continues. “It was Caroline who suggested it. You know it’s funny, but having the children was one of the reasons that we wanted to get up and perform live – for our kids to see what we do for a living. So it was wonderful that they were all there, all the children and grandchildren were there at Hyde Park.”
“To be honest the first time [we performed] was at our dad’s funeral,” Andrea tells me. The siblings recently faced the tragedy of losing their dad. He passed away halfway through making the album and the experience has shaped the release powerfully. Is it even more important to emphasise their Celtic styles for the sake of celebrating their heritage after such a loss?
“Yeah it is. It’s also just what we do and they are the songs that we wrote. I mean if you don’t contrive to make a record a certain way, you are are only trying to make your own favourite record – and then hopefully that will transcend.”
“To some it will and some it won’t – but all you can do is please yourself really. The traditional Irish sound has always been part of our music and it is very much here, it’s there in the lyrics … and also in the instrumentation.” (Andrea).
Fans will be pleased to hear that there’s no dramatic change to their style – they have kept true to The Corrs sound, whilst also ensuring that the album remains relevant and modern. “We don’t endeavour to sound like anybody else. We honestly just do what we do,” says Jim.
“We do what we do naturally and we have been influenced by music throughout the years – by listening to what our parents listen to, we listen to contemporary music, lots of different genres of music, traditional Irish music of course, classical music (we were classically trained as well). So you hear, at times, all of those influences coming out in our music. This time around we just do what we do. It is very important to have an ear to what is current, what is contemporary, so you can try to remain fresh.”
To read the full cover interview please purchase the February 2016 issue of Maverick available here.
Charlotte Taylor • www.thecorrswebsite.com